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Mass Spectrometry Imaging in criminal investigations

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Research partners

West Yorkshire Police

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Mass Spectrometry Imaging in criminal investigations

Novel fingermark analysis provides insight into the background of a criminal's lifestyle

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-MS) Profiling and Imaging are used here as an innovative method for the detection of endogenous or exogenous species within latent fingermarks.

Dr Simona Francese pioneered this technology at Sheffield Hallam University which is now being trialled on fingermarks recovered from crime scenes in collaboration with West Yorkshire Police.

Multi-informative analysis

Fingermarks traditionally enable the identification of suspects through matching the ridge patterns. MALDI-MSI allows the detection of multiple substances that a suspect might have touched or even ingested providing important information in a criminal investigation.

Drug dealer or drug user?

Identifying the presence of drugs and their metabolites in a fingermark could help distinguish between drug dealers (detection of the parent drug) and drug users (detection of metabolites).

Unravelling crime scene mysteries

Fingermarks recovered from crime scenes are sometimes incomplete, smudged or overlapping. Imaging the distribution of chemical constituents that differ between overlapping patterns can allow for their rapid separation and increase the potential for suspect ID.

Peptide profiles for sex determination

Endogenous peptide detection can be used in sex determination. Using MALDI-MS profiling it has been demonstrated that it is possible to determine the sex of an individual between 18 and 45 years old with the 85% of accuracy by retrieving peptide profiles that are characteristic of either one or the other sex

For more information on these studies, please contact us.

About this project

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Research partners

West Yorkshire Police

Get in touch

Contact the BMRC to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Email BMRC

Research team

Simona Francese

Dr Simona Francese

Professor of Forensic and Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry

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